The government is spending around £500,000 each year storing dinghies used by illegal immigrants to reach Britain, because the law requires the vessels to be held for twelve months in case the owner decides to claim them.
Hundreds of boats are currently lying dormant with Britain seeing record levels of migrants arrive via the English Channel – upwards of 10,000 already this year and estimated to be as high as 30,000 by the end of the year.
They are initially stored in Dover before they are transported to storage depots across the country known as Queen’s Warehouses where, after twelve months, they are eventually forfeited to the Crown and are free to be disposed of.
A Home Office official said: “Any boats that may be used as evidence to prosecute vile people smugglers are stored as investigations continue.
“Current legislation also obliges us to keep items for a short period in case an owner wishes to claim them.
“New laws in the Nationality and Borders Bill will enable us to dispose of vessels much quicker or where suitable donate them to worthy causes in the UK.”
The department’s response was ridiculed by Conservative MP Peter Bone who fairly asked the question: “What people smuggler is going to turn up at the Home Office and say, ‘You’ve got my boat, please can I have it back?'”
Speaking on Monday on GB News, the MP for Wellingborough went further, claiming: “It’s absurd. It’s reported that it’s half a million pounds a year at the moment but it’s going up all the time. I understand the place where they are storing the boats is full, so they’ve got to go and hire somewhere else and it is a waste of money!
“These boats are not cheap items – they are worth a significant amount of money. Sell those boats, give them to charities who fight human trafficking to reduce the problem!”